Plans have been announced for the return of Edinburgh Cocktail Week after the success of its first outing last year, growing from three to seven days and featuring more bars.
It will take place from Monday October 15 to Sunday October 21 and include a large 750 sq m Cocktail Village in Festival Square on Lothian Road and a hub and bar on Queen Street.
More than 80 of the city’s bars are due to be involved, including The Voyage of Buck, Tigerlily, Tonic, The Refinery, Finn & Bear, The Printing Press, Black Ivy, The Permit Room at Dishoom, Baba, Harvey Nichols and Dakota Hotel in South Queensferry.
This expansion follows organisers’ plans to create clusters of bars in more residential areas such as Leith, Stockbridge, Broughton and Bruntsfield, spreading footfall and allowing wristband-holders to experience Edinburgh Cocktail Week without having to travel into the city centre.
It will include a week-long programme of parties and other events across the Scottish capital including brand residencies at bars, mini masterclasses, DJ sets and sessions with industry experts. Tickets for events and parties go on sale in September, priced at £4 each and include a welcome signature serve.
Last year’s inaugural festival ran for only three days in October, involving 50 bars. This year’s will again use wristbands, priced at £6 for weekdays and £8 for the weekend, providing access to events and £4 signature cocktails at participating bars.
Organiser Gary Anderson said: “Last year proved that Edinburgh is the biggest cocktail capital outside of London and showed us the need to expand the event to a week-long celebration.
“Based on feedback and our ambition to further grow the event we have introduced new elements such as Edinburgh’s first Cocktail Village, a masterclass hub on Queens Street, and increased the number of bars taking part to over 80 to help spread footfall.
“Edinburgh has some of the best bars and mixologists in the world and Edinburgh Cocktail Week is about showcasing and supporting the city’s thriving cocktail scene. We can’t wait for October to arrive and look forward to welcoming cocktail lovers to Scotland’s biggest cocktail festival.”
The Cocktail Village will be free to enter for people who have bought wristbands. It will be the place to collect wristbands and the free ECW Guide and enjoy £4 signature cocktails from 15 pop-up bars from brands such as Edinburgh Gin, Belvedere Vodka, Jameson Whiskey, Ableforth’s Gin, Altos Tequila, Smokehead Whisky and Rock Rose Gin.
It will feature giant trees, picnic tables, live music and DJs, grass flooring and potted plants, festoon lighting, heaters and a clear roof skylight, creating an outdoor festival atmosphere. The Cocktail Village will be delivered in partnership with Purvis Marquee Hire Scotland.
The hub on Queen Street will feature The Secret Spirits Study pop-up, hosted by Wemyss Malts and Darnley’s Gin, although the exact location is being kept a closely guarded secret just now.
It will offer a programme of cocktail making, gin and whisky masterclasses during the day where people can sample and learn how to create classic cocktails or their own gin or blended whisky before shaking up their own creation to bottle and take home.
Masterclasses will be one hour long and attendees are invited to stay afterwards to enjoy £4 signature cocktails from the bar.
In the evening the venue will become an underground cocktail bar with a programme of bar takeovers from leading bartenders from across Scotland, who will showcase their skills and create a menu of signature cocktails for wristband-holders to enjoy in the lounge or underground arched bothy.
Tickets for masterclasses and evening sessions will be on sale from September, with the secret location only being revealed to ticket-holders.
Opening to the public for the very first time, Sweetdram is welcoming in those who enjoy progressive, flavour-driven spirits. Its new distillery will be offering tours and sampling sessions during this year’s Edinburgh Cocktail Week, encouraging all to “Drink Different”.
After beginning life as gypsy distillers in east London, Sweetdram shifted production to Scotland after the demand meant that the only way it could continue was to build its own distillery and Edinburgh was a no-brainer: phenomenal bar scene, progressive restaurants and great support for the local community.
With two products in the range so far, Escubac, described specifically as ‘not a gin’, and Smoked Spiced Rum, the tour will also offer samples of both spirits and a chance to purchase a dram of the first batch of Escubac ever made in Scotland, which has been maturing in whisky casks for a long, flavoursome six months.
The organisers of Edinburgh Cocktail Week have also secured an official “bottle shop” partnership with Royal Mile Whiskies and Drinkmonger in Bruntsfield, offering wristband-holders exclusive discounts during and after the event. Royal Mile Whiskies is also the official on-trade supplier to participating bars.
Wristband-holders can also enjoy free entry before midnight to late-night venues including Opal Lounge, Shanghai, Lulu and the new 4042 in Grindlay Street, plus additional perks on dining, retail and beauty during the festival.
Edinburgh Cocktail Week is supporting Maggie’s Edinburgh as its official 2018 charity partner, hoping to raise £2,400 – the daily cost for Maggie’s to provide free support to people affected by cancer – by offering attendees the option to donate between £1 and £5 when buying wristbands online.
Keep an eye on www.edinburghcocktailweek.co.uk for updates.